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National Selfie Day

Rick McNeely, DJ at the Fishbowl Radio Network in Arlington, Texas, created National Selfie Day in an effort to get people to enjoy and take selfies in their own creative way. A selfie contest is held on the day, where people vote to choose the most fun and creative submitted selfie. Participants are to share their submitted selfie on social media and tag the photo with #NationalSelfieDay.

A selfie is defined as "a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website." The word is of Australian origin and was first recorded as being used publicly in September 2002, when a man tore up his lip after a night of drinking and asked on an online forum about the stitches he had just gotten. He posted a photograph he had taken of himself and called it a "selfie." It appears the "ie" in the word follows the format of other Australian words such as "barbie" for barbecue and "postie" for postman.

In 2003, the Sony Ericsson Z1010 mobile phone was released, one of the first with a front-facing camera that made selfies easy. With the subsequent rise of smartphones, selfies became ubiquitous. "Selfie" was voted Oxford English Dictionary's Word of the Year in 2013, beating out "twerk" and "Bitcoin." The Selfie Stick was invented in 2015, which allows a person to hold a phone or camera farther out so that a background or other people can be included in the photo.

The term selfie may have only come about in recent years, but the act of taking one dates back almost a few hundred. What many consider to be the first selfie, which was called a self-portrait at the time, was taken in 1839 on a daguerreotype camera by Robert Cornelius. He took off the camera's lens cap and ran to the frame and sat down for a number of minutes, then covered the lens again.

Improvements in the functionality of cameras continued over the following decades, helping spur the proliferation of self-portraits. For example, self-timers were put on cameras in the 1880s. The Kodak Brownie Box camera debuted in 1900, which continued to help make self-portraits more widespread. The first recorded self-portrait that looked similar to the selfie of today was taken in December 1920 on top of the Marceau Studio on Fifth Avenue in New York City. A group of five men was in the photo, and being that a heavy antediluvian analog camera was being used, two of them held up the camera while the photo was being taken. Decades later, in the 1970s, affordable and light instant cameras like the Polaroid became widespread, which were easy to hold by one person at arm's length, making a self-portrait a simple feat. These instant cameras were able to take self-portraits similar to how smartphones do today.

Some regard the rise of selfies in the era of the smartphone as part of a rise of narcissism, while others consider them to be an example of people taking control of how they want to be represented or viewed. No matter which one they are, or if they are a combination of the two, one thing is clear: selfies are here to stay. On National Selfie Day we embrace the phenomenon and put on our best smile to share with the world!

How to Observe National Selfie Day

Some ideas on how to celebrate include:

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